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Death of key witness could jeopardize DeKalb school corruption trial | Schools

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Death of key witness could jeopardize DeKalb school corruption trial
Death of key witness could jeopardize DeKalb school corruption trial

DEKALB COUNTY, GA - A funeral at a Lilburn church marked the passing of Cointa Moody on Tuesday.

According to the medical examiner, the former school system employee died of natural causes.

Now there's a question about whether her death could jeopardize one of DeKalb County's biggest open corruption cases.

"I remember when I was a prosecutor, unfortunately there were cases that had to be dismissed because the state's key witness was no longer available to provide testimony in the trial," former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan told 11 Alive News.

Morgan now represents architect Tony Pope, who was indicted along with three others on bribery and corruption charges in 2010.

Those others included Pope's ex-wife and former DeKalb County School Chief Operating Officer Pat Reid, former School Superintendent Crawford Lewis and Reid's personal secretary, Cointa Moody.

All were accused of illegally profiting from school money involved in construction projects.

Last summer DeKalb County prosecutors re-indicted the case, but dropped charges against Moody.

In return, the former insider agreed to become a chief witness against her former bosses.

After nearly three years of delays, the case is now set for trial on April 15th of this year.

But now that Moody is gone, the jury can't hear what she told prosecutors in written or recorded statements.

"Since there was no hearing, no adversarial hearing where she testified where everyone had the chance to cross examine her, any statement that she made prior to her death is just rank hearsay and would be inadmissible," said former D.A. Morgan.

A statement from the office of current DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James told 11 Alive they had "no comment" on how Moody's death could affect their case.

Attorney Morgan said it's possible prosecutors may have other witnesses to help trace the paper trail linking the defendants, but without Moody, they will have a difficult time.

We won't know for sure until if, and when, the trial finally begins in mid April.